Food Controversies

Experts from the University of Reading, the University of Turin and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), launch a new online course that gives consumers insight into food system controversies. 

With most of us staying home during the COVID-19 crisis, now could be the perfect time to explore what online courses are out there to expand our knowledge and deepen our learning of topics that interest us. Reading’s new Engaging with Controversies in the Food System course is an example of just that.

What’s involved?

This free online course brings together a range of expertise in a project funded by EIT Food. Over three weeks, learners will discover how the food industry is developing and will engage with topics including sourcing alternative forms of protein from plants, algae and insects; the widespread use of palm oil in both foods and related products; and the increasing understanding of probiotics for human health.

The course allows those enrolled to flexibly learn at any point over the three weeks. It is led by Dr Andrew Ainslie, an Associate Professor of Agriculture and Development at the University, who will be helping consumers and those working in the food industry to explore and understand the many different perspectives that form part of food controversies. He said:

“We will be focusing on alternative proteins, palm oil and probiotics which represent some of the most contentious and discussed developments in the food industry.

“Our team of specialists will help to introduce learners to some important contemporary food controversies. We want to provide them with insights that will challenge their current conceptions of what food is, where it comes from and the human and environmental costs and trade-offs of its production.

“We anticipate that having analysed these three controversies through balanced consideration from a range of perspectives, learners who complete the course will be better informed about the complex interconnectedness of the whole food system.

“Ultimately, the course is designed to increase learners’ ability to bring this new discernment to all the food they eat and hopefully become agents of change by better understanding the issues, arguing for or against certain practises, and perhaps using their new insights to help educate family, friends and even work colleagues on the issues covered in the course.”

Learning online

The University has extensive experience of designing, developing and producing successful Open Online Courses (OOCs), with a dedicated team that has created more than 20 courses for the FutureLearn Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Since starting with a handful of courses in 2013, courses developed at Reading have attracted more than one million learners from 190 different countries. Developed and supported by expert staff in our research-intensive departments, you can explore accessible, thought-provoking courses on a diverse range of topics from Heart Health, to People Management and Ancient Rome.

Don’t forget that as a graduate of the University, you can also access this new OOC and many other online courses run by FutureLearn for free.